Bad governance will send us the way of Mozambique
The insurgency in northern Mozambique — which has left more than 1,000 dead and a quarter of a million people displaced, and threatens to break up the country — should serve as an urgent warning to the ANC of how terribly things can go wrong for SA if the party does not govern honestly, inclusively and competently.
Mozambique’s liberation movement, Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo), the ANC’s sister party, has governed the country appallingly since it came to power in 1977. Power, patronage and leadership in Frelimo and the country have rested with a small struggle elite from the south.
A violent uprising was waiting to happen, though it was generally expected it would come from Renamo, the opposition with which Frelimo was in a bloody civil war between 1975 and 1992.
In power, Frelimo has often marginalised the regions dominated by Renamo and other opposition parties, excluding their supporters from government appointments and private sector opportunities.
It has been accused of developing only areas where it has majority support.
Frelimo has won increasingly narrow victories in elections, where it uses state resources to block the opposition from campaigning in Frelimo strongholds, threatening individuals and regions not voting for them with further marginalisation and violent retribution.
Freedom of expression, association and assembly are virtually non-existent in Mozambique. The intelligence services are abused to spy on the opposition, civil society and the media. Criminal defamation laws restrict the media from reporting freely.
Frelimo deliberately excluded Renamo from government, private sector and development opportunities. The result was, predictably, for Renamo to take up arms again between 2013 and 2016.
More recently, new opposition groups have emerged, based on regional, ethnic and religious interests, in
The Maputo government unleashed the military rather than addressing the lack of service delivery
response to the monopoly southerners have on power.
They include the Movimento Cívico de Solidariedade para Apoio da Zambézia (Mociza), in the province of Zambezia in the central coastal region, and the Muslimbased Ahlu Sunnah Waljama’a-Jamaa (abbreviated to AlSunnah), based in Cabo Delgado province, in the northernmost part of the country.
The Cabo Delgado region has seen a steep rise in oil, gas and mining investment in recent years. But these are controlled by small elites from Frelimo, and exclude local people. Mineral-, oil- and gas-rich lands have often been seized by the government with no compensation.
When locals protested such outrages, the government used brutal force to suppress them. Foreign private companies — in return for concessions from the Frelimo government — either look the other way in the face of human rights abuses or subject employees and local small-scale competitors to violence, often using private security companies.
When violence first broke out in Cabo Delgado in October 2017, the Mozambican government unleashed the military rather than addressing the legitimate grievances, lack of service delivery and political, economic and developmental marginalisation.
Muslim fundamentalist organisations have mined existing discontent among those marginalised by Frelimo to build a base in Cabo Delgado province. It could have been any other opposition force. Islamic State has claimed the Al-Sunnah insurgents in Cabo Delgado as being under its umbrella.
The insurgents have taken Mocímboa da Praia, a strategic port for oil and gas exports.
The immediate strategy will have to be to contain the violence by bringing in a peacekeeping force involving multiple African countries — as the Mozambique army and police appear to be too detested by locals to effectively intervene.
Local grievances have to be addressed. Importantly, the Mozambican government needs to apologise for its shabby treatment of the local population. The government will have to be seen to genuinely give Cabo Delgado locals a stake in new investments, improve public infrastructure and respect human rights. Reparations, where due, should be provided.
The ANC, to prevent SA from facing Mozambican-style violent chaos, must govern honestly, inclusively and competently, bring the talents, ideas and partnership of the widest diversity of people into the government, and provide development opportunities to prevent those losing out from resorting to violence, the talented from emigrating, and foreign investors from leaving.